HOW-TO: Getting Podcasts on a Portable Media Center (and other Windows Media Devices)

podcast on the pmc

In a continuation of our Podcasting series, for this week's HOW-TO we look at how to get Podcasts on non-iPod devices. A Podcast is usually an audio program somewhere on the web that can be downloaded automatically to your audio playing device, so you can listen to it wherever and whenever you want. You actually do not need an iPod to publish or receive Podcasts, but the "Pod" name caught on, so many folks have emailed us asking if they can use their Windows Media devices as well as Portable Media Centers. You can and we'll show you how all using free programs.

Ingredients for this How-To:
Windows Media Player 10

Windows Media Device (we're going to use the Portable Media Center)

Getting Started
If you have a Windows Media Device such as a Dell Digital Jukebox or a Portable Media Center, you've likely already installed Windows Media 10, and if you haven't, make sure to do this before you proceed. Windows Media 10 offers a lot of new features, but the ones we're most interested in are auto-sync and auto-playlists—this will allow you to grab the audio shows, download them to your hard drive and have them automatically sent over to your portable device.

Download and install iPodder. You don't need an iPod or iTunes to use this application. After installing, and launching the application—Start > Program Files > iPodder—the first thing we'll need to do is add an RSS feed that tells iPodder where to get the audio files.

adding the rss feed

Click add and cut and paste this link in to the dialog box:

Click check for new podcasts and then go away for awhile. While you're waiting, click the Scheduler tab in iPodder and check off "Check for new podcasts automatically". Click "Check at regular intervals" and choose how often you want to check, we chose 8 hours, but you can choose whatever will work for you best. Click "Apply scheduler settings".


Windows Media Player 10

Crank up Windows Media Player 10, Start > Programs > Windows Media. Click Tools > Options.


Click the Library Tab and click Monitor Folders.


Now we'll add the place iPodder downloads the audio files, this way, Windows Media will know where they're at.


Click Add, the browse to: My Computer > Drive > Program Files > iPodder > downloads, click OK.


Then Click OK again to add to the list. Click OK again.

Click the Library Tab in the Windows Media Player, then right click the "Auto Playlists" item in the left bar.
Select new, and name your list, we called our "My Podcasts"

my podcasts

Click the green plus button that says "Click here to add criteria", then scroll down and select "more"...


This is where we're going to tell the auto playlist to add files that are in the iPodder directory. Choose "File Name", click OK, then in the New Auto Playlist window, click the "Click to Set" link and type in iPodder.


Syncing up

Now we'll want to have the Windows Media automatically send the audio files over to the device when you plug in. Click the Sync tab in Windows Media, then click the "Set up Sync" link.


Choose Automatic, and click the "Customize the playlists that will be syncronized" then click Next. Scroll down to the "My Podcasts" playlist and check it off. You can of course add other ones if you like, or .if you've already done this, just add "My Podcasts". Click Finish.


If you've already downloaded content with iPodder, Windows Media will start the transfer to the device.

Finishing up...
After we wrote this up, we found a few other resources: Jake Ludington's Podcasting with Windows Media is a great article (in fact, it's basically the same as ours, but also shows how to only keep items from the last 7 days and some other good tips) and if you want to make Podcasts on your PC, the Weekly Standards has a good how-to as well.

A little soap boxing...
Podcasts aren't meant to be for one platform, one device or even just one format—the most important part of a broadcast of any kind is audience, and we hope this how-to helps get more people listening.

Now if you own a Windows Media device like a Portable Media Center, jump around and scream for Microsoft or someone to start making it as easy to get video content as it is to get audio content. Imagine thousands of TV shows, movies and videos from around the world delivered to your computer and portable video player each day. There are some ways to do this, but it's a long way from where audio is at right now, and even that is a little tricky to set up as you'll see.

Phillip Torrone can be reached via his personal website: or